BEMSEE racers battled rain, temperatures and track conditions this weekend as they became the first club riders of the year to hit British circuits.
It was a clean sweep of victories for Peter Branton in the DFDS Seaways Yamaha Past Masters championship, but he was forced to race for it every time by Doug Edmondson. Edmondson himself took a trio of runner-up finishes, but missed out on the win twice, by less than half a second.
In race one Dan Wright was third, before Scott Grant took his first podium of the year in race two. Wright was back on the box in race three, leading four riders across the line as they battled for the final rostrum position.
Kev Marshall and Andrew Burscough took one and two Clubman wins, respectively, with Scott Carson notching three Rookie wins.
Three different outfits took victory in the RKB-F1 and F2 Sidecar Championship as Matt Maclaurin and new passenger Lee Watson took the win in race one.
But it was Simon Gilbert and passenger Jack Tritton, the latter one half of the UK Clubsport’s 2017 F1 Sidecar of the Year, who took the spoils in race two. The final race went to the pairing of Brian Gray and Jason Pitt.
Sam and Adam Christie and Martin Kirk and Shelley Smithies completed the race one podium to make an all F1 affair. The F2 class win went to Sean Reeves and Paul Thomas.
Gilbert and Tritton’s win came ahead of Kev Cable and Guy Pawsey, with Gray and Pitt third, while Reeves and Thomas took another F2 win.
The final race saw Gray and Pitt take victory, with the Christie squad taking the runner-up spot while Reeves and Thomas put their 600cc machine on the overall podium with a third place finish.
Barry Chamberlain came away from the opening round of the Steve Jordan Motorcycles Thunderbike Extreme championship at the top of the points table, taking a double win and a second place from the three races.
Riding a Goldline Maintenance Services Suzuki, Chamberlain qualified on the front row for race one, starting from second place behind Carl Tucker. But he was in a class of his own as the lights went out for the first time in 2018, racing to victory, and crossing the line over five seconds ahead of the runner-up.
And it was David Shelvey who crossed the line second, ahead of David May, to make it an all-Suzuki podium. Peter Funnell was the lead Rookie, inside the points in 14th.
Chamberlain made it a double, but won race two by a far slimmer margin than race one. A mere one second covered the whole podium, with Matt Hinnells taking second place after a last lap move on Shelvey, who took the final rostrum spot as Funnell was again the lead Rookie in 14th.
Shelvey stopped Chamberlain from making it a hat-trick after finding untouchable form in the final race. He hit the front on lap one and pulled a huge advantage to take a dominant win. Chamberlain’s second means he left Brands Hatch as the championship leader, with David Abraham third. Rob Bryant’s 12th was enough for the Rookie win.
In the Thunderbike Sport class, Steve Topping converted pole position into victory in race one, but it wasn’t without a fight. Topping dropped to third on lap one, and was down in fourth place on lap four.
But just two laps later he assumed the race lead and from there controlled proceedings to take the win. Second went to Edward Watson, and third to Malvern May, while the Rookie spoils went to Shane Beasley in an impressive seventh.
After finishing fourth in race one, Paul Holden climbed onto the top step of the podium at the end of race two. The Moremoto Racing Yamaha rider advanced to second on lap one, and was in the lead at the halfway stage.
And he managed to hold off charges from second and third-placed May and Topping to take the win. Richard May nabbed the Rookie win in ninth.
But Topping was back to winning ways in the final race after a thrilling battle that saw the entire top three take turns in the lead. Holden lead early on, but would finish third while Stewart May led the mid-part of the race.
However, he would miss out on victory by less than a tenth of a second, as Topping took win number two for the weekend. William Young was lead Rookie in 13th.
Former class champion and 2016 Yamaha Past Masters champion Mark Taylor took two wins from three races in the Chilton Motors BMZRC 250 series as the final spoils went to Chris Kent.
Kent set pole, but could only manage sixth in race one, while Taylor took the win. Behind, three racers battled for the final two spots on the podium with just half a second between them at the chequered flag.
Greg Wright bagged second, with third going to Robert Dessoy. 10th place was enough for Nick Hodgins to take the Rookie win.
Kent took his victory in race two, but just a tenth of a second behind him at the line was Taylor, while Wright was back on the podium in third. Alexander Mann was the top Rookie in 13th.
Race three and Taylor was back on the top step of the podium, this time ahead of Andrew Wales, who secured second place, with Wright again third to take another podium finish. Mann also made it two wins in the Rookie class with a 10th overall.
The Blue Haze GP series featured three different winners in Ben Hunter, Jeremy Hill and Mark Whiting as the three fought neck and neck all weekend. The latter two, along with Dan Wright and Tom Barrett, also took podium finishes to bolster their points tallies.
*Main and side images: Rod Tietjen
*Topping image: Jenny Wells